Friday, June 12, 2015
Mitch Reads... Mark 5
Jesus versus The Incredible Hulk!
No, no, hear me out. After Jesus tames the sea, they reach the shore in the country of the Gerasenes, which, according to the commentary in my NRSV was a largely non-Jewish population. This actually makes sense for what follows. Also, take that, Paul! Jesus was reaching out to the gentiles before you got around to it! Although, Jesus wasn't quite as successful.
Anyway, the Hulk. Jesus steps out of the boat and into a graveyard, apparently, for where better to entomb people than right along the shore? He is immediately met by a man with an unclean spirit that gives the man incredible powers. He cannot be contained for he has broken any chains that people have tried to bind him with. He spends day and night running amok around the tombs and howling at the sky. Okay, so maybe he wasn't the Hulk but a werewolf?
The man asks what Jesus wants with him and pleads with Jesus not to torment him. Jesus calls the demon out and calms the man/Hulk down, presumably by reciting a soothing lullaby with an outstretched hand.* The demon says its name is Legion, for it is many, and begs Jesus not to send it out of the country. Why? I don't know? Legion really loves the fresh air? Legion is not city folk.
Legion has a better idea. Legion asks Jesus to send it into a large herd of pigs feeding on a nearby hillside. Now, consuming meat from pigs is against Jewish dietary laws, so it would make sense that this area has a mainly gentile population. Either that or they are some very non-observant Jews. For some reason Jesus finds this pig suggestion agreeable and gives Legion permission to go into the pigs. The demon possessed pigs then run straight down the hillside into the sea and drown. Mark says that the herd numbered about two thousand pigs. So, two thousand demon possessed pigs commit suicide.
THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENS IN THE BIBLE!
The swineherds, or pig shepherds, or whatever, understandably weren't the most pleased with this. How much would two thousand pigs cost today? How much did they cost back then? That seems like a large monetary value that just went to the bottom of the sea. Well, maybe not the bottom. Wouldn't a pig's corpse float? So, is that sea now full of two thousand floating pig corpses, just bobbing around, bumping into boats or washing ashore? That is nasty, especially when they begin to rot and decompose. Thanks a lot, Jesus!
So the pig shepherds go into town and tell the people about the big financial hit the community's economy just took. None too happy, they come to see Jesus and the formerly possessed man. They were rather afraid because of what Jesus had done and begged him to leave. I'm surprised someone didn't demand that Jesus pay for all those pigs. If they had, it would probably somehow fallen on The Rock to pay the bill. Because that's just how The Rock's luck goes.
So now Bruce Banner wants to join Jesus and his entourage, but Jesus says no. Instead, Jesus tells him to, wait, what? Jesus tells him to not keep the Messianic Secret. What? Seriously, Jesus tells him to go home and tell everyone about all that has happened to him. So the man goes out to the Decapolis, a fairly gentile populated group of towns, and spreads the good news about Jesus. Once again, Paul, you're a little late!
Making his exit, Jesus uses his escape boat to escape another crowd, only this time they wanted him to leave. He crosses back to the other side of the sea where there was another, more favorable crowd awaiting him. Jairus, a synagogue leader, comes and says his daughter is dying. He asks Jesus to go with him and make her well. Jesus agrees, but they've still got a huge crowd to wade through as they head to Jairus' house.
Mark "sandwiches" another story (get it? Sandwich!) into this story about Jairus' daughter. In the crowd is a woman that has been hemorrhaging of some degree for twelve years. Now, why we may simply think this would just be physically tiresome, annoying, and probably painful, under the Law she would have also been deemed unclean. This would have, to some extent, cut her off from her religious life. Way to kick a person when they're down, Law!
So the woman just reaches out and touches Jesus' cloak and is instantly healed. Or maybe instead of a cloak it was a cape, a powerful cape that lasted for six seasons and a movie. Nah, it was a cloak. But Jesus could feel the power go out from him, through his cloak, and into the woman. So he stops and asks what the deal was. She confesses that it was her and Jesus is totally cool with that. He says that her faith had healed her.
While he was dealing with this woman, some people from Jairus' house come and say that Jesus can go back home for the daughter had died. Jesus tells them, however, not to fear, but to just believe. So they continue on with The Rock and the Thunder Twins to the house where everyone is weeping and lamenting the death of the girl. Jesus asks what the big deal is, for the girl is only sleeping. The people at the house respond to him with laughter, which is a much more considerate reaction than I would expect. If I had just lost a loved one and some stranger told me not to be stupid, the person was only sleeping, I would probably kick him out.
Not deterred by their laughter, Jesus enters the house with the deceased girls' parents. He tells the girl to get up and she simply gets up and begins to walk around. The parents were understandably amazed by this, but Jesus orders them not to tell anyone about this. The Messianic Secret is back in action!
Oh, and then he tells the parents to give the girl something to eat. Because of course that's what Jesus would do. Seriously.
They probably gave her a sandwich.
Thus ends the Fifth Chapter of Mark.
*This wonderful line must be credited to Eric Epling. #giveericcredit